Published letters Volume 2

To John Thornton1

 Fredrickburg  July 3d [1777]

Dear Sir

Whither to impute my not meeting with you since I have been in the state to mere chance or some unlucky Genius wh seems to prevail; not only in this instance but also in every step I have taken since I left the 3d Regt, I must confess I am totally at a loss to determine.  I have been repeatedly at Fredricksburg, once at Colo Champ’s,2 and twice made a circuit of the back Country; in the course of wh time fortune has neither thrown me in your way, or more than six men, who are willing to enter in the army, in mine.  I am very unhappy in finding myself incapable of raising a sufficient proportion of men to take the field, for altho I am not fonder of the inconveniences that attend the acting part of the army than most people, I wod still prefer that mode of life attended with its usual fatigue and danger to the one in wh I at present act.  Independent of the labor, the fatigue and extravigant expense to wh a recruiting Officer is subject, there seems to be too generally annext to the character, the Idea of Insignificancy and indolence, to make it an agreeable service.


The Officers of my Company & myself have in all, I believe about 15 men; and I am thoroughly convincd we shall not get another man without using those arts wh I wod avoid and which no man of honor should use.  I shall however still exert myself for a month longer, at the expiration of which time if I neither have nor can get a sufficient number to command, I shall desire yours & Colo Thruston’s permission to go to the northward with Mr Jones,3 leaving the other officers of my company still recruiting (or rather still endeavouring to recruit) as you will direct.  I am Dear Sir with the greatest respect your very affecte humble Servt

Jas Monroe

RC, Vi-Ar: Rejected Claims: John Thornton


To John Thornton

 De[rb]y August 25 [1777]


Dear Colo

As nothing of material importance either publickly or individually in the course of the meneuvers of ours or the Brittish army, has happen’d since my arrival at camp1 till of late, I have designedly pospon’d giving you information of my station at Camp till I cod convey something to you that wod make it more agreeable.  The good fortune which has smil’d on an enterprise of Genl Stark’s2 against a party of the enimy at Bennington will I hope shew the effect happy and acceptable.


Just as Genl Burgoyne’s3 progress toward Albany became really serious and somewhat formidable, he has I believe recd a fatal check.  Great in numbers, invincible in Proclamation, havoc and desolation in his mouth and Indians who delight in ruin at his side, he advanc’d on and for a while bore down all opposition.  To make head against him he sd wod be unavailing, to give him battle certain ruin and infallible death.  The next time he appears in print since the overthrow a part of his army have recd, the pompous Genl will perhaps be less presuming and declamitory:  To give you the justest Idea of the action and also to fix certainty to the report I will transcribe you G[eneral] Orders.


“The Commander in Chief has the happiness to inform the army of a signal victory obtain’d to the Northward.  A part of Genl Burgoyne’s army about 1500 in number were detatched toward New Hampshire and advanc’d with a design to possess themselves of Bennington; Brigr Genl Stark of State of New Hampshire with about two thousand troops (mostly militia) attacked them.  Our troops behavd in a very brave and heroic manner.  They push’d the enimy from one work to another thrown up on advantageous ground and from different posts with spirit and fortitude untill they gain’d a compleat victory over them.  The following is a list of the prisoners, kill’d and wounded.  One Lt Colo, one Major, five Capns, 12 Lieut, 4 ensigns, 2 Cornets, one Judge Advocate, one Baron, 2 Canadian Officers, and 3 sergeons.  37 Brittish soldiers, 398 Hessians, 38 Canadians & 150 Tories taken prisoners.  The number of wouned fallen into our hands exclusive of the above are about 80.  The number of the enemy who were slain has not been ascertain’d but suppos’d to be about 200.  Their [Artillery] consisting of 2 Brass field pieces with a considerable quantity of baggage likewise fell into our hands.  Our is 20 or 30 kill’d and perhaps 50 wounded.”  This is literally a copy of G. Ors.  It is believ’d it will be to B[urgoy]ne, as Trenton was to Howe.4


Yesterday the Genl march’d his army thro’ Phila in all the Pomp of military parade.  The line extended six or seven miles.  The Tories it has intirely silenc’d the timid Whigs confirmd.  I shod be very glad to hear from you—pray how the old Regt of ours.  I live very agreeably with Lord Stirling.  He unfortunately fell from his horse yesterday and hurt himself exceedingly.  A report prevaild yesterday that Fort Stanwix was not longer invested.5  Another also wh was positively affirm’d by a gentleman of reputed honor that one Colo Morgan of militia, had made a descent on Statten Island, kill’d several, taken about 70 together with one Allen,6 a noted Trenton Tory likewise several Field officers.  I shod inform you of the certainty of it only we are all confind, because of the above mention’d misfortune.  The returning to our former stations is impossible; The Genl says he might with equal propriety, give us that rank in any other Regt.  He sd I might continue here acting with Lord Stirling till the Congress determin’d something about those Regts.  If you wod come on to camp I doubt not you wod have an immediate command equal to your rank.  The Genl has however but few posts in his hands wh he can dispose of.  I am Dear Colo with great respect yours affecy

Jas Monroe


RC, NHi: Gilder Lehrman Collection



To John Thornton

Novr 21. 1777.

Dear Colo

The late inactivity of the army, the enimy quietly possess’d of Phila and we determin’d not to attack them, has render’d it unnecessary for me to write you.  Their repeated efforts to clear the river, their several attempts to possess themselves of Fort Mifflin, and more particularly their endeavour to storm Fort Mercer, altho’ they are not without importance have however prov’d ineffectual but in the loss of the prior Post.  That while we possess the latter will not be eminently prejudicial.  From an intire conviction of this, their maneuvres of late have principally tended to act against it.  Lord Cornwallis1 a few days ago crossd the Delaware below the City with, as the best information we have says, about 3000 men to invest it.  Every step we take is to counteract some maneuvre of theirs; we have not force to act decisively.  The whole army was order’d under arms at 9 this morning intending to march at ten.  The order was countermanded and only Genl Greene’s2 division march’d with a view (as Lord Stirling tells me) of crossing the Delaware with such orders as the obvious circumstance of things points out.  The Remainder of the army moves on towards the River in the morning early.  It is expected they will exert their collected force to possess themselves of that post.  We must of course collectively oppose them.  They say themselves, (we are informd) if they do not command the River they cannot continue in the City.  If they do not take fort Mercer they cannot command the River; and they are determin’d to stay in the City if possible.  So of course the fort is a capital object.  39 transports wh sail’d from New York the beginning of this month have arrivd and join’d the rest of the fleet.  It is also said they are landing men on the Jersey Shore, we suppose to act under Cornwallis.3


The army under Gates4 have not arriv’d yet.  It is sd they are on their way and that shortly they will be down: when a report first prevail’d that Clinton5 intended sending a part of his army from York the Genl in order to divert them order’d two Brigades down to the White Plains; this tho’ the view prov’d abortive retarded their march. Genl Burgoyne’s army we are told diminishes fast; they desert in numbers, to such an excess that out of several companies not one man remains.  This information seems tollerably well authenticated.  We often receive papers from the City wh are replete with falsity and codswill.


Lately the attention of our Genl Officers has been much taken up with trying each other.  Sullivan,6 Wayne,7 Maxwell8 and Stevens9 have been severally call’d on to vindicate their Conduct.  To[day] the Commander in Chief approv’d the Sentence of a Genl Court Martial, by which major Genl Stevens was discharg’d the army.


The Campaign to me has been a very expensive one.  If you find it requisite tho’ a journey to Virginia will be (in point of expense) almost ruinous I will come immediately and settle with the Regiment.  The army is to me infinitely more disagreeable than ever.  I most sincerely wish that Officers of reputation wod continue in the service.  The principles on which the war is carried on now is intirely different from what it was at first.  Patriotism, publick spirit and disinterestedness have almost vanis’d; and honor and virtue are emty names.  Every table thro’ the line is the Theatre of calumny, and praise & approbation without some of their own favorites is the subject, is banish’d from the scene.


I hope to hear from you soon and believe me Dear Sir your very affectionate humble Servant.

Jas Monroe

RC, Vi:Ar: Rejected Claims: John Thornton